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Focus on job seekers' abilities – not impairments

15 March 2005

Focus on job seekers' abilities – not impairments

Employers were urged to give disabled job seekers a go by Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey and Disabilities Issues Minister Ruth Dyson today.

Speaking at the Employers Summit in Wellington, the Ministers said that thousands of disabled people had a vital economic and social contribution to make and needed more opportunities.

"With unemployment at a record-low, there has never been a better time to focus on providing work opportunities for all New Zealanders," Steve Maharey said. "This means thinking outside the box about how we can provide opportunities for people that have traditionally had difficulty obtaining employment.

"The government's new Service for Sickness and Invalids' Benefit Recipients is a good example of how we can support people with disabilities to find employment. Rather than focussing on why people can't work, case managers will now ask what people need to get into employment and will take steps to make it happen."

Ruth Dyson said this way of thinking needed to be adopted by employers as well.

"We're asking employers to look at abilities – not impairments," Ruth Dyson said. "The government will support employers in making any necessary accommodations to take on disabled staff and help make their employment sustainable.

"Most employers already know that hiring people with disabilities is viable – already 1 in 6 people in employment has an impairment of some kind. We now need to do all we can to make sure that the 1 in 5 New Zealanders with a disability have a fair opportunity to contribute to and benefit from our country's economic strength."

ENDS

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